Do The Plan With Dan: From Zero to Hero in 10 Weeks / 5 Hours a Week.

Average Weekly Training Hours 04:03
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 04:03
Training Load By Week

For the past year Dan Lloyd has been living firmly in Couchlandria. The former Cervelo Test Team rider and GCN presenter has been logging more kilograms than kilometers, pounding more pilsners than pedals. Dan woke up New Year's Day with a killer hangover and more than a few regrets. He knew he had to make a change. That's when we stepped in.

To get Dan from zero to hero we called in the big guns: Sir Neal Henderson, coach to athletes like Rohan Dennis and Kasia Niewiadoma and evil genius behind our workouts and training plans. But Neal had a tall order. Dan can only fit in five hours a week of training: four on the bike and one hour off, and only on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. How much fitness can someone gain in 10 short weeks of minimal volume and a little cross-training? It's time to find out.

Misery loves company. Start the new year out right by joining Dan on his 10-week journey to move out of the soft, plushy country of Couchlandria and get back on the path to Honour, Glory, and Victory. Here's how it works:

1. If you haven't already, go to, download The Sufferfest app for iOS, macOS or Windows and create your account.
2. Follow the 10-week plan along with Dan.
3.Use the hashtag #DoThePlanWithDan to share your progress on social media and let us know how you're getting on.
4. Follow The Sufferfest on social media and stay tuned for weekly videos with coaches Neal Henderson and Mac Cassin where we take a look at the science behind the Suffering and discuss strategies to nail your workouts and stay on track.

Sample Day 1
The Long Scream **Reduced Intensity 80%**

Four Dimensional Power Focus:
NM: ✭✩✩✩✩
AC: ✭✩✩✩✩
MAP: ✭✩✩✩✩
FTP: ✭✭✭✭✩

No fuss. No muss. No comfort anywhere to be seen. This workout is straight to the point and that point is sustained Suffering. With a single solid block right at or just above threshold this is the perfect session to work on your pacing for longer sustained efforts. The “line” between threshold and over threshold is a fine one. The power targets in this session might feel easy at the start, but by the end that same effort will leave you long-screaming for mercy. Combine this session with Igniter and you have a perfect test run for the local TT. Pay attention to how an evenly paced effort feels and you will set yourself up to pace your next TT perfectly, even without the help of a power meter. Completing this session at reduced intensity (say 80%) after another hard session will push your tired legs and lungs just hard enough to help improve your FTP without putting you too far into a hole.

Sample Day 2
Do As You're Told **Reduced Intensity 90%**

Four Dimensional Power Focus:
NM: ✭✭✩✩✩
AC: ✭✭✭✭✭
MAP: ✭✭✭✭✩
FTP: ✭✩✩✩✩

The little voice in your head is telling you to stop. The screams from your legs are nearly deafening. But you hear none of it -- you're following orders to ATTACK. This is the story of two men in a car, your team directors, who are guiding you to GLORY over the dirt roads of Italy and the cobbles of Belgium. Ignore them at your own risk - they will not tolerate insubordination. In this session, you'll tackle two sets of 11 intervals each. The first set has high-intensity efforts with matching recoveries. This pushes your body's ability to recover right to the limit -- just what you need to improve AC. The shorter, super-high intensity efforts also help with your NM. The second set features inverse intervals with opposite efforts and recoveries. This really depletes your body's AC so you need to rely on your aerobic system. This helps develop your MAP.

Sample Day 4

Four Dimensional Power Focus:
- NM: ✭✭✭✩✩
- AC: ✭✭✩✩✩
- MAP: ✭✩✩✩✩
- FTP: ✭✭✭✭✩

This session is all about high-torque efforts, very similar to the efforts you would experience out riding up the steep slopes of Mt Sufferlandria. While these efforts are short, and the intensity isn’t too high, the low cadence targets combined with minimal recovery will leave some begging for the high cadence sprints of The Omnium.
High torque efforts like these have two primary benefits. Improved neuromuscular coordination, and increased muscular endurance.

During each pedal revolution your legs have to “switch on” and “switch off” almost all of the muscles in your legs. High cadence efforts in something like Cadence Builds are great for teaching these groups to make that switch quickly. These low cadence efforts are better for teach ALL of the muscles in your legs to “switch on”. Done properly you should be pulling with your hamstrings with one leg while the other leg is pushing down with all the force your glutes and quads can muster. If you feel like you are pushing yourself up out of the saddle during harder efforts (like seated sprints) then your hamstrings are not being utilized since they should be pulling you back down into your saddle.

The second main benefit is improved muscular endurance. Even though the session is under 45 minutes, you will put a similar amount of muscular fatigue into your legs as a steady 3 hour base ride. You can almost view this session as hitting the leg press for 8 sets of 100 reps.

And just like the weight room, proper form is absolutely key! That means:
-- You should focus on pushing down AND pulling back up. You want your glutes and quads activated on the way down, and your hamstring and hip flexors activated on the way up.
-- To properly engage your hamstrings think about trying to pulling your heel up to your butt when your crank arm is going from 6 o’clock to 10 o’clock.
-- Your knees should be tracking straight up and down, no collapsing in or out!
-- Your core should be fully engaged to keep your hips rock steady in the saddle. This will be easier if you are both pushing and pulling during each pedal revolution.

This session is very simillar to Power Station. Both help improve your muscular endurance and coordination, the biggest difference is the work to rest ratio between the two. While the intervals here are shorter than those in Power Station, the decreased recovery duration means fatigue will build faster, especially for those with a weakness in repeated efforts. Modifying interval length and recovery duration can also be seen between sessions like Revolver and A Very Dark Place. Both serve up a healthy dose of MAP/VO2 work, but the overall "feeling" of those two sessions are different.

If you find that your lower back starts to ache during this session, or that you have to start rocking in the saddle to keep the power up, then it’s time for you get started on our Yoga programme. Kick it off with “Core Strengtheners I” to make sure your core is just as strong as those legs!

Sample Day 5
To Get To The Other Side **Only First 45 Minutes**

Four Dimensional Power Focus:
NM: ✭✭✩✩✩
AC: ✭✩✩✩✩
MAP: ✭✩✩✩✩
FTP: ✭✭✭✭✭

While you might think the only way to improve your FTP is to ride at, or above, your existing FTP, that isn't always the case. You body can only handle so much time above FTP in any given week (or month for that matter). But that doesn’t mean you should just sit around doing nothing the rest of the time.

Your body is most efficient at clearing out lactate and other metabolic byproducts at 80-95% of FTP. This is one of the few sessions where you can consistently sit at that intensity and let your body churn away at this nice efficient effort level. It's the ideal workout to end a hard, three-day block or to add in during a rest week. It will give your body a little training stimulus while still allowing it to recover from whatever tortures you've recently put it through.

Sample Day 8

Four Dimensional Power Focus:
NM: ✭✩✩✩✩
AC: ✭✭✩✩✩
MAP: ✭✭✭✭✭
FTP: ✭✭✭✭✭

Smooth like butter. Grace under pressure. It's what we're focusing on in this session as you accumulate plenty of time at a high aerobic workload. A good warm-up leads you into two sets of five 90-second intervals with 3-minutes of “recovery” between each. Instead of full gas intervals followed by super low intensity recovery, these efforts are hard, but the real sting (and training benefit) comes from the incomplete recovery you face between intervals. These “recovery” efforts are at the upper end of Z2, meaning you still need quite a bit of oxygen to keep that power churning. By keeping the intervals themselves under your Maximal Aerobic Power (MAP) AND not allowing complete recovery, your body will burn through your Anaerobic Capacity (AC) before the end of each set, forcing your body to produce that power aerobically. Your body goes through that same transition near the 3-minute mark of the 5-minute test during Full Frontal, but with this session not only is it less painful, you end up with more total time in that aerobically dependent state. Endurance sports are all about churning through as much oxygen as possible, and few other workouts see you churning this hard and for this long.

Sample Day 9
The Way Out

Four Dimensional Power Focus:
NM: ✭✩✩✩✩
AC: ✭✩✩✩✩
MAP: ✭✩✩✩✩
FTP: ✭✭✭✭✭

One of the few Sufferfest sessions that can be viewed as a “Sweet-Spot” session since the intervals aren’t above threshold (except for the very end) but are harder than a tempo effort.

This session pushes your body close to the limit of what it can 'comfortably' handle without going any further. Why? Going above threshold causes a considerable amount of hormonal stress that takes a lot of time to recover from. But you don’t actually have to ride above threshold to improve your FTP - the fitness gain between 30 minutes at 90% of threshold and at 102% of threshold is minimal, but the stress on your body from the later is much greater and the recovery much longer.

That is why this session is a key component to any training plan: It gives you enough training stress to help improve your FTP, but remains 'easy' enough that you can do it when you're tired or before a big block of harder efforts.

Sample Day 11
Power Station

Four Dimensional Power Focus:
NM: ✭✭✭✩✩
AC: ✭✩✩✩✩
MAP: ✭✩✩✩✩
FTP: ✭✭✭✭✭

On the surface this seems like a rather tame session: a series of intervals that are all under five minutes long and which are almost all under threshold. But there is more here than the power file shows. The lack of “intensity” in these short sessions is made up for by the very low cadence targets each effort requires. This creates minimal cardiovascular stress but places a tremendous load on your muscular system. The goal is to keep your upper body absolutely rock solid during these efforts. If you find that you bob back and forth for each pedal stroke then your core is not up to the task your legs are giving it (better get onto our yoga videos and strengthen that core).

This session can be a great test to see how your lower back will hold up over a longer ride outside. A core that will fail you after 3 hours of road riding can often be identified fairly quickly during this session. If your back is burning just as badly as your legs it's a signal to do some additional core strengthening. With so much stress on your muscles this is a great session for improving your overall endurance and your ability to produce lots of high torque, giving your NM a nice boost along the way.